Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Today's Melbourne Age contains a story that's a classic beat up.

It's about an alleged "breakaway" group from Australia's mainstream Jewish organisations which supposedly aims to encouraging 'open debate' within the Jewish community on the Middle East [New bid for 'open debate' on Israel].

The group being set up by Sydney author Antony Loewenstein is inspired by a British group of about 100 Jews (among a community of several hundreds of thousands) who recently set up the Independent Jewish Voices aimed at "challenging the dominance of Britain's long-established main Jewish organization" and opening debate over the conflict in the Middle East.

The article showcases Loewenstein's claim that there is no 'open debate' in Australia's Jewish community over Israel, Zionism and Palestine.

I don't know if there is a need in Britain for debate over the conflict in the Middle East but it is downright disingenous of Loewenstein to suggest that debate on the issue is stifled within the Australian Jewish community and further, it was poor journalism to present the story in the way in which it was written.

The most accurate part of the story can be found at the end when Jewish Community Council of Victoria President Anton Bloch is quoted -

"The reality is that there are diverse views in the community on different approaches to how Israel ought to defend itself within the underlying view that Israel has a right to defend itself."

The JCCV is the roof body of Jewish community organisations and includes the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (whose executive member Harold Zwier is quoted in the article) which is often critical of Israel's actions and policies.

The only Jewish community newspaper, the Australian Jewish News often publishes articles that question Israel's policies and its letters to the editor is full of lively debate on the subject.

The AJDS and other groups like Jews for a Just Peace and a handful of individuals like Loewenstein have been around for years consistently pushing the "no open debate" message.

Their voices have not been stifled and there has been ample debate within the community on the issue, debate which continues to this day. Their problem however, is that their views lack credibility. Further, their numbers are so small that they can conduct their meetings in a telephone booth.

While it might irk them that the great majority of the Jewish community rightly stands by its Israeli brothers and sisters in the face of attacks from Hamas, Fatah, Hizbullah and the Iranians who all want to "kill the Jews" (and that means Loewenstein is their target as much as I am), they are most welcome to conduct this debate on the issue anywhere and any time.

In the meantime, the Melbourne Age, which refused to cover the controversial Vorcheimer anti Semitism case last year, continues to treat the Australian Jewish community and its own readers with contempt by legitimising this very small group on the outermost fringes of Jewish society in this country.


Jono said...

Spot on. It is The Age and Antony Lowenstein who are the lunatic fringe dwellers.

Anonymous said...

What's this about Loewenstein's claim to have received death threats? Isn't that the same allegation that was made by that Burnside fellow at the Age Writers Wankfest?

Seems quite strange to me that these Israel-bashers are receiving death threats from Australia's most peaceful community. Have there been any charges laid against the people who allegedly made the death threats? Is there any proof whatsoever that they were made?

Yeah. I know :)

Contrast that with the stuff you can read in Muslim wegsites in Australia and the rest of the world!

Anonymous said...

What do Harold Pintsized and his Pommy Jewish mates in IJV think about Jews being called monkeys and pigs in British schools []?

They should be running scared if you ask me.